Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge - E for Employment

It is pouring rain outside today, so what better opportunity than to finish of my next blog in Friday's Family History through the Alphabet Challenge as part of my attempt to complete the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge.

Today's challenge is "E" and this post was inspired my recent blog on sisters Mary Ann and Emma Jane Weston. As I put their stories together, part of my research involved looking how they, their husbands and other family members were employed.  The "Employment" of our ancestors helps us develop a more colourful picture of the circumstances of their lives.  So my Alphabet Challenge for today is "E for Employment".

There a number of different resources that can assist you with discovering how your family members were employed.  Here is a brief summary of some resources that are useful.

MC for Thomas Lee and Emma Jane Weston
1.  Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates:
Birth certificates generally list the occupation of the child's father, for example on Emma Jane Weston's Birth Certificate , her father is listed as a house painter.  Marriage certificates can give details of how the bride, groom and parents of couple are employed.  On Emma Jane Weston's certificate her husband Thomas Lee is described as a gold digger. (I believe this is literal, and not that Emma Jane was wealthy, he he.)

1851 Census Barnoldswick, George Rushworth and family

2.  Census: Census records provide us with a mine of information on how families were employed often listing the occupations of all family members and their neighbours. The census page from the Barnoldswick, 1851 Census  on the left shows how all of George Rushworth's family is employed.  It is obvious from their occupations that the main industries for this district were related to weaving and the textiles.

Military Record for Malcolm Michael Shepherd
3. Telephone, Post Office and Trade Directories:  These are another useful resource, which provide in alphabetical order, details of where family members lived and sometimes their occupations.  An example of a directory that is very useful for Australian Research is the Greville's Post Office Directory. I was able to find Emma Jane Weston's Uncle, Alfred Weston on the 1871 Greville's Directory abd confirm that he had moved to this district and was employed as a miner in Araluen, a mining community, in the Braidwood district of southern New South Wales.

4. Military Records: My recent blog "D is for Dog tags" outlines some of the wonderful information you can find when you access your ancestors military records. The front page of a soldiers record will give you details of their employment prior to their enlisting. An example of this can be seen from the front page of my grandfather Malcolm Michael Shepherd's military record.  His occupation is listed as a carrier in the Braidwood district.

Immigration: Mary Anne and Emma Jane Weston 1856
5. Immigration Records/Ship Logs: Emigration/Immigration and Shipping Lists are another useful resource.  When researching Mary Anne and Emma Jane Weston I was able to find out that they were employed as housemaids in London prior to travelling Australia on the "Kate".  These details were shown on the New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 .

6. Letters, Obituaries and Newspaper Articles:  Finally,  the careful examination of the documents related to your family history that you have collected can be rewarding.  Often, when you reread a letter, obituary or newspaper article you are able to find clues to how your forefathers were employed. Old receipts or accounts from a family business will also provide you with clues. If you do not have newspaper clips or obituaries, Trove is a useful site for accessing these.  If you are new to Trove, a post from last year, TROVE, outlines how to register and the wonderful benefits it provides for family tree researchers. By searching the Trove you are able find feature articles, business advertisements, obituaries and death notices etc. These articles provide great clues to how your ancestors were employed.

I hope that you find these few hints helpful when looking for how your ancestors were employed.  Family tree research is more than names and dates, lets find out a little more more about how they felt, who their neighbours were and what was their life like!! 
 

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